This is one from this past winter on the old blog that I liked, so I'm reposting it here.
My library has a piano that patrons can use. It's very popular, with
people often signing up for an hour each day to use the private space
for practice. It's a lovely service in an area with a lot of people who
can't have an instrument of their own, let alone one so large and
expensive - but that's not what I love most about having the piano here.
The most beautiful music flows gently from around the solid door, which
locks firmly behind the occupant, leaving them tucked into a little
world of their own. The room, the music, is an escape for some of our
patrons whose lives contain some hardships. It's a place where they can
shut all of that out of the snug little room and lose themselves in
creating something beautiful, wrapping themselves in the joy or sadness
of the music.
But for me, the very best part is when I need to let someone know the
next person is here to use the room. I approach the door, and am
treated, for a moment or two, to the loveliest music. We have some
really skilled players, and it's a delight to hear their song drifting
through that door. Then I knock, and when the door opens, I see someone
sitting there. They are always graciously getting ready to leave,
appreciative of the time they've had in there, and very often, someone
you might not have guessed would have that skill and beauty in them. I
I love that this reminds me that you never know what's in someone, and
makes me look twice at everyone, ready to see clues to who they are
under a rough exterior, past a smell of smoke or alcohol or slept-in
clothes. I love to have it demonstrated so perfectly clearly that there
is beauty in unexpected places, in people who don't get the chance to
exhibit it in most areas of their life.
The man in shabby clothes, hair unkempt and skin roughened by elements
and years and hard living, colours muted to grey with wear, who spins
melodies from keys and notes floating in his memory. The nearly
toothless man who has just begun to read for pleasure who wants
something that makes him thinks about bigger things. The man who lives
in a hostel and can only borrow one or two items at a time, but comes
each morning after his graveyard shift to read, trading in his book
pretty much every day or other day. There is a soul of curiosity, a
longing for some beauty in the world, a love for learning or losing
themselves in a good story, to which I can fully relate.
It's these things that make me so very happy to do what I do, and be
able to give these people the things that make life a little better for
them, or give them an escape that won't drag them down. In turn, I get
the gift of seeing them more clearly, a reminder to look deeper.